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Jan 24, 2022

Power Users: Definition, Analysis & Increasing Top User Engagement

Alberto Incisa

You don’t need to convince a million people to use your app to become profitable ― find 1000 true fans instead:

“if you can earn, on average, $100 profit from each true fan [...] then you need only 1,000 of them to earn $100,000 per year. That’s a living for most folks,”  

advises Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly

Your startup is not really in business until you find your first true fans―your power users. And that’s exactly what June helps you with: let’s see how.

What Is A Power User

A power user is an active user displaying high engagement.

Most of the times:

  • They don’t need your product to be perfect. They just get your value proposition from day 1 and need little hand-holding.
  • They keep coming back, often. There is something your fans get from your product they cannot obtain from anyone else.  
  • They talk about you to their friends. Engaged users will happily recommend you to whoever asks for it (and sometimes even to those who don't).

Why User Engagement Is Important

Understanding how your top users became so engaged is key to product success because it will help you to:

1) decrease churn

2) decrease acquisition costs

3) increase your product’s value proposition.

It doesn’t matter how many users you have if you can’t keep them around. Your retention rate is the most important metric to grow a sustainable business model. Power users stick around, by definition, so they are incredibly valuable for figuring out how to decrease your churn.

Finding where your power users hang out and the type of messaging that got them converted in the first place is an inexpensive way to decrease your acquisition costs. Acquisition is 5 times more costly than retention: getting to know your power users increases your marketing return-on-investment.

Already-existing customers are also 60% more likely to buy something new from you. Power users will not only increase your average customer value, but also indicate the features that your whole user base will find value in. You can then integrate these insights into your growth machine to drive your product roadmap.

How To Identify Your Power Users

A simple way to figure out who your power users are is to take your product offline for a day and see who sends you angry emails.

But pissing your top users off is a terrible move 😅 so let’s take a more data-driven approach.

The Power User Curve

Another approach is to draw a power user curve.

A power users curve shows you how often a user comes back to your product over the period of a week or a month

Here is how to build it:

  1. Write a list of your active users. A user is considered active when engaging with your product in some way you see fit: logging in, clicking a button, or reading your Welcome email.

2. Next, record when they performed an action in your product

3. Lastly, sum the active users together for each day of the week and divide them by the total number of active users for this week.

That’s how it looks like:

Of course, you can do the same with a monthly time scale. This is more relevant if you're a Consumer product.

Accessing your database and performing these calculations manually on a daily basis is kind of a drag.

To make this task easy we created the Power Users template to do both automatically.

Example of Power User Curve Analysis

In this chart, the product has some engaged users, but it is clearly not designed to encourage a daily habit. If this power user curve comes from a consumer product, engagement and retention need a lot more work.

This second chart shows a more ideal situation with a tipping point where usage starts increasing again:

  • 7% of users open your product on a daily basis (31 total active days)
  • and 25% every workday (at least 20 total active days), making them interesting groups of users to learn from.

Something good is going on, so you can now find out who these people are, which features they are using, and where they learned about your product to improve your growth strategy.


User engagement analysis: how to increase monthly active users and power users

Some of the most common reasons for churn include:

  • Bad onboarding experience - people don’t understand how to use your product.
  • Bad pricing - your pricing plans are too complicated, uncompetitive, or not adapted to your target audience’s usage
  • Wrong audience - you are appealing to the wrong crowd
  • Bugs - your best features need some fixing

A thorough power user analysis using engagement data can address all of the aforementioned points.

Fix 1: Better Onboarding Experience & Gamification

A power user curve can help you understand when your customers drop off, and the journey they followed. If they leave before getting products' full potential, you have an activation problem. A good onboarding experience coupled with gamification mechanisms addresses that. If you have a clearly defined power user segment, you want to understand the path they took that made them click and push the others towards it.

The onboarding process is the first step toward building a habit loop within your product. People need to be given resources to understand how to use your product to achieve their goals. Something like a product tour, a frequently asked questions section, or email support should do the job. The easier you make it, the higher the chance they will put in the time to discover your service.

Gamifying your user interface is also a great way to increase engagement, like Duolingo’s day streak system or Github’s contribution graph. Rewarding your customer for their effort is a powerful incentive to turn them into power users who will proudly display their badge of honor.

The faster users can perform a task, the longer you can keep them engaged. Smoothly inserting your app into your user’s workflow by proposing tool integrations is a great way to kickstart a long-lasting relationship. June integrates with Segment in a single click, for example:

Fix 2: Better Pricing

Maybe your pricing plans are too complicated, unadapted to customers’ usage of your product, or your competitors offer higher value at a lower price. You can use the power user curve to refine your pricing model.

If people use your product at work during the week, you should charge per seat. Your perceived value increases in corporate settings, so make sure to leverage that. That’s why Trello, Asana, Slack, and most project management software out there use per-seat pricing. Same with products used on a daily basis

If engagement doesn’t correlate with delivered value, consider usage-based or one-off pricing

For example, Zapier proposes software automation, so the user doesn’t need to perform any action to receive the full benefits of the service and usage-based pricing makes sense. Same with Uber―most people probably only use the app once a week or so.

Fix 3: Targeting The Right Audience

By clicking on your power user curve you will learn who your fans are, but do they match your buyer persona?

If the wrong people subscribe, they are unlikely to get your value proposition and stick around.

You might also want to figure out which marketing channels referred them to you, and re-design your engagement funnel accordingly to redirect your acquisition budget toward the channels that matter most.

Studying your individual users is key, once again, and communication goes both ways: provide your customers a space for expression and you’ll not only understand them better but also create trust. Experiment with live chats, social media presence, and user interviews to get a better feel of what works for your business.

Once you have a space to capture these interactions, amplify them and get testimonials from power users to attract more people like them: let your users do the talking and you will decrease your marketing costs tremendously.

Fix 4: Prioritizing Your Most Important Features

If you cannot deliver what you promise, customers have no reason to stay around. You need to reassure them you are working on it, and keep them updated when issues are fixed.
Power users can tell you more about your features than you already know. Take the following feature audit chart for example:

If your most beloved features (reports_opened) stay broken or uncared for, you will have a hard time turning more people into power users.

Prioritizing work based on the power users feedback drives product development positively since you are betting on what already works, but power users can also be problematic for the direction of your product. Power users are naturally demanding, and catering to their every demand leads to over-engineering.

For new and old features, you also want to pay close attention to feature adoption. Features displaying high engagement are a signal from your users to develop them further. Unused features should be removed to clarify your offering, avoid information overload, and improve performance.

Going further with retention analysis

If you want to double down on user engagement analytics, June also proposes retention analysis reports to discover how, when and why users opt-out of your product:

Use June to find your power users

No need to roam the world with your team to find your power users, June has got your back. Obtain beautiful power user reports with the snap of a finger. It’s incredibly easy to get started: just connect your Segment account and boom, everything is automated for you.

Did we mention it’s free? Sign up today for a complete power user report.


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June 1.0 - Instant analytics reports built on top of Segment | Product Hunt